Sonoran Corn Tortillas

A recipe straight from the kitchen of Tortilleria Los Janos in the heart of a farming community in Mexico.

At Tortilleria Los Janos in Sonora, Mexico, the kitchen is whirring to life by 6am. Stacks of fresh, warm tortillas will pile up to be sold to anyone from the 600-person community of Los Janos, home to many of the workers at Wholesum, a Fair Trade Certified organic produce farm. Community members usually drop by on foot, many of them on their lunch break. Around here, the tortilleria is a bit of a legend—it was built in 2015 using Fair Trade Community Development Funds and saves the people of Los Janos hours and money every week. They're said to be the best tortillas in the region, so we asked for the recipe.

Their recipe usually yields an epic 2,000 tortillas per day, so this version is scaled down to a smaller batch of 16-18 tortillas, perfect for a family or small gathering. Having a tortilla press doesn't hurt if it's that perfectly-rounded shape you're after, but it's definitely not required. With just 20-30 minutes and a couple of basic ingredients, you can have authentic Sonoran tortillas to serve at home.

TORTILLERIA LOS JANOS

The tortilleria is situated in the center of the community beside two other building projects funded through Fair Trade Community Development Funds: the at-cost 'fair trade market' and the community center. This area is walking distance for community members.
The factory building, the plot of land it sits on, and the machinery and equipment inside were all purchased with Fair Trade Community Development Funds.

MADE TO ORDER

A tortilla sale is made. Before the tortilleria was built, families had to travel to Imuris, a larger city 5 miles south of Los Janos, to purchase tortillas. This may seem like a short distance, but many people in the community do not own vehicles and would have to pay taxi fare to get there. The current price for tortillas is set at $11 pesos per kilogram, which is approximately $0.26 per pound.

HOT OFF THE PRESS

The factory's administrator and tortilla producer loads tortillas onto the tortilla press. The factory has created multiple jobs in the community.

weighing tortillas

The tortilleria makes about 175 pounds of tortillas every day.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups Minsa Tortilla Corn Flour Mix (or other brand, if not available)
  • Salt
  • Unsalted butter (optional)
  • Water

Preparation Instructions

  1. Mix corn flour with 1.5 cups of warm water (or according to directions of the package – some brands require different amounts of water) and ¼ teaspoon of salt and let sit for five minutes.
  2. Mix in 2 Tbsp of unsalted butter and then knead the dough by pressing with your fingers until the dough is pliable. If the dough is too wet or sticky, you can add a few tablespoons of corn flour. If it’s too dry, add a little bit of water.
  3. Divide the dough into 16 to 18 pieces and roll each piece into a ball approximately the size of a golf ball.
  4. To press the tortillas, you first need to prep a tortilla press with two sheets of plastic or wax paper placed on the surface of the press. (Note: use a tortilla press for a more consistent shape. If not available, you can roll out the dough with a rolling pin between pieces of plastic wrap or use the bottom of a flat skillet to press down.)
  5. Place a ball of dough between the pieces of plastic or wax paper in the tortilla press. Press lightly to flatten the dough ball into a flat, round tortilla.
  6. Heat a griddle or large skillet. Once hot, cook the tortillas for 1 to 2 minutes, then flip with a spatula and cook for about one more minute until golden. Serve while still warm.

To store leftovers: For best results, wrap the tortillas in cloth while they cool down. Once cooled, store in air-tight packaging or container and refrigerate. Refrigerated, they can last about a week. They may be reheated on a damp paper towel or cloth. Once they are not pliable, they may be fried to make tortilla chips.

Serving suggestion: Top with grilled Fair Trade Certified Wholesum vegetables like peppers, tomatoes, and squash to support the farmers and workers of Los Janos.